Unintended consequences: The ripple effect in construction marketing

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city fingerprint officeI’ve just returned from the police station, where an officer took my fingerprints, possibly unsuccessfully.  The reason: Somewhere in Canada, someone who has been convicted of a sex offence happens to have my exact birth-date. And I type a lot, and had been asked earlier to be the manager of my son’s house league minor hockey team.

The officer explained that convicted sex criminals can change their name when they are pardoned. The only thing they cannot change is their birth date and their fingerprints. After a particularly high profile sex-murder trial, and because of concern about child sex offenses, folks with the same birth date as convicted criminals can expect to be fingerprinted.

Oh, if it could be so simple. In most cases, the electronic fingerprinting system can generate a no-match, and I would be free to go. But I type a lot, and it seems folks who type (or garden) a lot wear down our fingerprints to such an extent that the computer system cannot validate their distinctiveness. It may take  a day or two for a human review — and possibly I’ll be called in again, for another shot at the fingerprinting process.

Fortunately, the police don’t charge a fee for this service, and when all is complete, my fingerprints should be destroyed. And no law-abiding citizen wants sex offenders hanging around minor hockey teams.

This story, however, raises some interesting “what ifs” about business and life (and construction marketing). Quite often, events or situations occur outside of our orbit or control that change our course. You could call these circumstances “luck” because, while we may make decisions that set the forces into action, we really don’t have any control over the variables. The best thing to do in these situations is to go with the flow — to accept there are imponderable elements and circumstances around us, which have sometimes unintended consequences.

Sometimes these result in simple inconvenience, sometimes they create great opportunity, and sometimes, of course, they can result in seemingly unjust results.

For example, we know of some people who fail to take care of their health, are slime-bags, and end up old, wealthy (maybe because they have won lotteries or an inheritance) and “successful”. And sometimes good people with real talent and character have everything you could imagine go wrong.

Most of the time, however, our luck relates to our circumstances, environment, our genetics, and how we choose to live. We might have diabetes or heart disease in our family backgrounds; but our chances are better if we watch our diet, exercise and don’t smoke. These are choices.

When it comes to marketing, you can observe the basics: Build a good business, treat your clients fairly, and attract reasonable repeat and referral business. Then you reach out to other marketing resources and services; with the usual probabilities of success or failure. Should you purchase marketing services because someone cold called you or sent a blast email, or devise ways to validate through referral and recommendations? Can you apply the basics in your own marketing? Sure, sometimes luck will be against you; and sometimes the unsolicited inbound “spam” call can provide useful results. And sometimes strange things happen such as the events that required me to visit the police station today. Life is interesting and often unpredictable.

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